Politifact Fact Checking Website Hacked To Mine Monero Cryptocurrency

Some websites inject your PC with a cryptocurrency mining script to tap into your system's CPU cycles. It is used as an alternative to advertising (or sometimes in conjunction with it) to make money off of your visits, though not all sites are upfront about the practice. Worse yet, a hacked website could be using your CPU unbeknownst to everyone, save for the hacker. That appears have been the case with Politifact, a popular political fact checking website.

Security researcher Troy Mursch noticed something was awry on Friday when he visited Politifact's website. While perusing the site, his CPU usage spiked to 100 percent. Upon further investigation, he discovered multiple instances of Coin Hive, a piece of code that some websites use to mine a form of cryptocurrency called Monero, using resources from visitors' PCs.

Politifact Website

In many cases, Coin Hive is used in place of ads, though in this case someone hacked Politico to run multiple instances of Coin Hive at the same time. Those multiple instances are what caused Murch's PC to ramp up to 100 percent CPU usage, along with others who visited the website, including security expert Brian Krebs.
Aaron Sharockman, executive director of Politifact, said the issue might be related to a third-party ad provider. Whether that was case or if Politifact was directly hacked, Mursch classified the use of Coin Hive in this instance as being malicious, since it was happening without a user's knowledge or consent.

Coin Hive is becoming an increasingly popular option on major websites. The infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB) recently experimented with Coin Hive (and caught some heat for not being upfront about it), and it was recently discovered that Showtime, a premium cable channel, was also running the script as the result of a hack.